Sometimes information-gathering is difficult. On a trip today to the Capitol to visit Judi M. gaiashkibos with the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs concerning an upcoming article for NEBRASKAland, I went to the Information desk to ask where Judi’s office was located.
“13th floor,” the nice receptionist said.
I went to the 13th floor, tried to unlock a closet, and returned down on the three-person elevator back to the Information desk.
“Not the 13th,” I said.
“Oh, try the 6th,” she said.
Try, I thought as I went back up. This didn’t sound good. However, I landed at my spot, and talked to Judi and her staff about their Tribal Encounter Kits, which are information boxes about Indian culture that teachers can check out for their students. After a brief talk with her, she introduced me to Lazaro Spindola, the head of Nebraska’s Mexican American Commission, across the hall.
So for the next ten minutes during a very nice conversation, I wondered what the proper term for his ethnicity was. Latino, Mexican, Mexican-American – I was unsure. Across the hall, I was pretty solid that “Indian” was correct, but I was out of my league in Spindola’s office.
After no obvious mistakes, I said good-bye to Judi as she complimented me on my NEBRASKAland shirt. “We should have one for our Commission that looks just like yours,” she said.
“I’d wear that,” I said, then I wondered as I left why she would want me to wear their shirt. I’m not Indian. But then I thought, why not. Why wouldn’t she want me to? Before I had made it to the elevator’s first stop, I had thought more about it than I should. Then when the doors opened on the 8th floor, at least 20 small children yelled “Surprise!” then sulked as one noted, “You’re not Ms. Nancy.”
“Give him room to get off,” one woman said amongst the crowd of kids.
“I’m not getting off,” I said as the doors closed again. And as I frantically struggled to find the OPEN button on the elevator, the contraption moved me away from the 8th floor as the kids yelled like kids do, and some of the adults probably swore at me for not letting them on the elevator.
As I left the Capitol, never sure until I saw my truck if I was even on the right side of the building, I thought about Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Larry David, and how every single situation he’s in seems to turn into something more difficult than expected.
Then I saw a guy trying to light a cigarette as he rode a unicycle, and I thought that things could be much, much worse.